Sunday, May 19, 2019

Aiming for the Middle

This week I completed a large project that has been hanging over my head since December. It seems I like to spend a lot of time in the concept stage of a project, overthinking it almost to the point of death. The actual doing doesn't take me that long.

In the last three weeks, I have shot, edited and uploaded all the video clips needed for the workshop I am teaching at the end of the summer for Dirty Footprints Studio's Summer Studio. The title of our summer session is - Capturing Moments. My workshop specifically is called: A Personal Note: telling the story. In a nutshell, it is about taking your favorite photographs into your art journal and telling the story behind the photograph using carbon transfer, words, and paint.

This is the first workshop I have ever filmed. Being in front of the camera is very uncomfortable, at least from a talking perspective. I would much rather write than talk. But I knew that I had to give this a try, and I am glad that I did. I learned a lot. All those films I shot last year in Xanthe Berkeley's film course paid off though. The editing portion was a breeze.

As I was preparing to upload them to Dirty Footprints, my husband asked if they would come back with any critique., it is a deadline for a reason. I have watched enough e-courses, and done enough filming that I was comfortable with what I had done. I told him that I wasn't aiming for perfect. That leaves no room for growth. I was aiming to settle in the middle.

Time to move on to some new projects and overthink those to death.

Early Bird pricing for the Summer Studio goes live on June 7. If you are interested, I will have a code for you to use when it goes sale. Stay tuned to my FB page and Instagram, as well as here. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Shadow Day

Photo Credit: Zeeland Christian Schools

A friend recently asked me if I would be willing to let her daughter "shadow" me for a day, part of a school project for 8th grade students. Samantha is interested in photography. Without a moment's hesitation I said, "Yes".

Photo Credit: Samantha Meyer

Last Thursday, May 2 was our "Shadow" morning. I had texted Sam's mom earlier in the week to find out what she enjoyed photographing. Being a good mom, Rebecca sent me a folder of Sam's photos.
Flowers, low to the ground shots, shooting into the sun for sun flares. Sam and I would get along just fine.

Photo Credit: Samantha Meyer

It has been a rainy, cold, crappy week here in Michigan, and Thursday's forecast called for a 60% chance of rain. I prayed real hard the night before. My initial plan was to shoot in our downtown. Our town is host to the Tulip Time Festival every May, it is starting this weekend. All the tulips to photograph, along with food vendors, bleachers, and carnival rides. A photographer's delight. I did make an alternative plan if my prayer didn't work. Greenhouses were our next best option.

We made it half way through the morning before the slightly annoying mist became very annoying rain. We stopped at one greenhouse. The rain gave us enough time to go to a coffee shop and load her photos onto her computer and play a tiny bit with editing.

Photo Credit: Samantha Meyer

Even though my role was teach Sam about what I do and photography, I think in the end she taught me much more.

What Sam taught me:

  • To fall in love with what I do once more
  • To look up
  • To be brave
  • To love being a teacher/mentor
  • To continue my own photography projects/series
  • To find the words again
  • To get out and wander without the dog once in a while
  • To see life through the fresh, unjaded eyes of youth
What I taught Sam:
  • Composition and the rule of thirds
  • How to hold and lock focus on her phone
  • Snapseed editing app for her phone
  • The art of wandering
  • Coffee shops are a great place to hang out
  • Build a body of work - shoot a series and keep building it. 
  • Don't be afraid to put your photos out there
  • Look at other's photos to learn more about your own
  • Good rain gear will always serve you well :)
She deduced herself that this was much more fun than school :)

Photo Credit: Samantha Meyer

Thursday night lying in bed, I was thankful for at least a couple hours of minimal rain. Also, for the revelation that I much prefer walking alongside someone on their creative journey then standing in front of them. 

Have a great week!


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Fixing What Was Broken

I never imagined when I ended this blog that I would so completely and unequivocally lose my way. I figured I would have the time I needed to devote to my fledgling business, and to a small degree that was true. But without blogging, I lost the motivation to make photographs. I lost the ability to share in the way that is truest for me.

Yes, since December somebody has been taking up most of my spare time and energy. But when my husband and I went on a cruise in early March, and I had a whole week without him, but still couldn't find excitement in taking photographs or editing them; I knew something was seriously broken and I had to figure out how to fix it.

Two events in April/May have been catalysts for me being back in this space today.

The first event was our 2nd Annual Huizenga family vacation at the end of April up in northern Michigan. We rented the same that we rented last year, thankfully minus the snow this year, and with an additional dog in tow. It was still great, but very different from all my other trips to the north country. I have never had a dog of my own along. This changed my morning routine. Instead of going out shooting every morning, we drove in to town and practiced his loose leash walking. I brought my dslr along, but never once took it out of its bag. The best camera is the one that is always with you. I shot a lot with my phone. I also shot a lot of video clips that will be complied into this year's vacation films. This creativity made me very happy, and was one giant step towards fixing what was broken.

The problem was that I had all these great mobile photos and films clips, but I had no way to share them other than FB, which is fine...but...I need to tell the stories as well. A FB post isn't the space for that. I didn't realize until this trip, a trip we have taken many times, how important the words and the stories are to me.

The second event was in early May. I was asked by a friend of mine if her daughter could shadow me for a day. Eighth graders around this area usually have a Shadow Day towards the end of the school year where they get to pick somebody in a profession they are interested and follow them around for a morning. She is interested in photography. Since I have a "business" I counted as somebody she could shadow. I said yes immediately.

I am nearing the finish line, or at least the finish date for the videos I had to shoot for the Dirty Footprints Studio summer workshop I was asked to do. On our Shadow Day, I had some interesting revelations about all of that as well. I will be sharing about our Shadow Day in my next post. I wanted to give it its own breadth and light.

Eventually, I will be moving my blog to my new website for Twisted Road Studio. Once I get these workshop videos finished, I will have the time to work on that. I have decided the new blog will be called Tales from the Twisted Road.

Stay tuned! I will be back.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Don't Quit on a Dream

This past week I had to bring my parents into the city for a doctor appt. It was a follow up to my mother's hospitalization in November for a couple of mini-strokes. On our way home we stopped for hamburgers at Wendy's. My parents are of German and Italian decent, one is the work hard, no emotion mentality, and the other is all about yelling and criticism. My parents are not that severe, but it was how they were raised and some of that carries forward. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of encouragement for creative endeavors as a child. But now at fifty, I don't need my parents approval or encouragement to know that I am following the right path for me. I debated all through the car ride to the city and the doctor's appt. whether I would share my exciting news or not. Finally, seated across from them, hands wrapped around foil covered burgers, I gathered my courage and said the words, "I've started my own small business as of the first of the year."  The smile that lit my dad's face warmed my heart. Explaining the concept of teaching an online art workshop and eventually selling my photography integrated art pieces via a virtual shop may have been a little beyond their comprehension, still, the look of pride on my dad's face meant everything to me.

I have had the dream of having an art business since the early 1990's, before my daughter was born. At the time, the only crafty skills I had were rug-hooking, counted cross-stitch, and collage using mod-podge, stencils and the decorative paper of the time. It was the mauve and green era so I covered everything paper mache in that color scheme.

The only place to sell your handmade art was at craft fairs. I dreamed of long rectangle tables clothed in black fabric, artfully styled with my paper mache creations and framed cross-stitch pieces.

But then our daughter came. There was no time for cross-stitching or collage work.

Eventually though the child grows up, goes off to college, graduates and starts a life of her own.

I have spent the last seven years learning photography, a more marketable art than counted cross-stitch. Craft fairs are no longer the only option for selling your art, thanks to the internet. It is easy to get your work out there and test the water before you ever make the decision to actually set up an Etsy Shop or a website to sell from.

Almost thirty years of holding onto a dream, never willing to completely let it go.

January 1st, 2019, I finally fulfilled the dream. I applied for my LLC for Twisted Road Studio, the name of my new creative business. The beginning of the next week it was official, I had a small business. Since then I have been busy setting up a bank account, a credit card, securing the domain name, an Instagram account, and a Facebook page. Things are coming along well. Next steps include getting my logo and branding done, and getting a website setup.

In my last post, I said I was going to create some postcards for an exhibition at a local art museum. I completed four postcards for the Postcard Salon exhibit and hand delivered them almost a week before the deadline. I am excited to go see them hanging on the wall. The exhibit opens January 24 and runs until February 7. The postcards are small versions of the art I hope to create integrating my photography and sell via Etsy.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


December has been...chaotic, for the most part snowless, frustrating and sometimes overwhelming. Yet in the quite moments there has also been great joy.

We brought Atticus home on December 2. He has added to the house some of that chaos, frustration, and also great joy. I haven't threatened to send him back to the breeder this week, so things must be looking up. Somebody we met recently summed it up best, "You are training a puppy, but you are also retraining yourselves."

The mostly snowless December has been great when you have to bring a puppy outside every 15 minutes to go to the bathroom. Not so great because the snow would cover up the acorns he gets distracted trying to eat and forgets to go to the bathroom. Then 15 minutes later we are back outside to do it all over again.

We didn't put our tree up until the Friday before Christmas due to a curious puppy, and it is down already, even though he did learn to leave it alone. The bows on the Christmas presents never lost their appeal though.

Atticus loves the beach! Hallelujah! I know I have the right dog. December has had a fair amount of 40 degree days and a little sunshine, perfect for digging in the sand and running up and down the little sand dunes. One sunny, 45 degree afternoon when we were there, there was a boat cruising the channel, the stereo system blasting Oh Holy Night and Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow. I felt like I was in some weird time warp.

Somehow I got everything done in time for Christmas; the presents bought and wrapped, the food bought and prepared, the house cleaned, the traditional sugar cookies cut out and decorated, the family party hosted and cleaned up. I'm glad it's over though.

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I am excited to try it out. Mallory surprised me with a month of unlimited yoga classes for both of us. I can't wait!

We had a mini-reunion of the boys from Atticus's litter along with their mom. The boys all live in the area so it will be fun to have play dates every now and again.

I committed to doing the online Summer Studio video lesson on Art Journaling for Dirty Footprints Studio.

I am looking forward with anticipation to 2019...

Watching Atticus grow up. Hard to believe he will be 12 weeks already on Monday.

I am entering 1-3 collaged postcards in a Postcard Salon exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of Art. Deadline is January 13. I have one almost done.

On January 2, I will begin the steps necessary to start my long dreamed of art business. I am applying for a LLC, setting up a bank account and getting a business credit card and all the other things that come with starting a business. I have a friend that will be doing a logo and branding for me. I need a head shot done for my website and for Dirty Footprints Studio, so I will be seeking somebody to do that. I plan to open an Etsy shop once I have some art ready to post. The art most likely will be a combination of collage and my photography, similar to the postcards I am making for the exhibition.

I have no idea where any of this is going to go, but I am buckling up for the ride and trusting the journey on the twisting road before me.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Day 12

The story we often tell ourselves is that we aren't good at something. The honest truth though is that we have never even tried. How in the world can we be good without trying?

Day 17

A couple posts ago I wrote about my art journey this fall. At the end I shared a bit about wanting to learn to draw. I was convinced that I wasn't good at drawing, but in all honesty I hadn't tried since I was ten. Our vacation up north motivated me to try again, at the age 50. Once we were back home I had to find a way to keep trying, even without the inspiration of the place I love.

Day 15

I seem to do really well with 30 Day challenges. November conveniently had 30 days. I decided to do 30 Days of Drawing. I even went bold and posted my daily drawing on Instagram, hoping that a few of my friends would keep me accountable.

Day One

It was scary in the beginning to put myself and my lack of skill out there. But somebody has to be brave and show others that even if you don't start out good, you can come a long way in 30 days with a commitment to daily practice. It wasn't a big time commitment each day. On the average I probably spent about thirty minutes per drawing. Some days I had more time and some days I was lucky if I had ten minutes. But it was the showing up every day that mattered, not how much time I  had.

Day 19

With any project there is the dreaded middle. I would have a few really good days, and then it felt like I took three steps backwards. The above drawing was suppose to be a moody stone barn, but to me it feels like a slightly moody Caribbean stone house. Not what I was going for.

Day 14

I am someone who needs to have an image in front of me to draw. But I also have seven years in as a photographer, I am image driven. Besides my own photographs, which I drew from quite a bit, Pinterest is a fabulous source. Oh the rabbit holes you can fall into. I swore I would never draw people because I wasn't good at it. But...I had never tried.

Day 9

Some of my ladies have been drawn with the X and Y axis and reference points and some have been outlined with my Lightbox, I am completely fine with that. Seeing how far I have come in thirty days, I know I will get there with them too. We all have to start where we are and grow from there.

Day 27

I am also completely in love with charcoal.

Exciting News

Today, Sunday December 2, we bring Atticus home. Let the adventures begin.

Second: I was contacted this week by Dirty Footprints Studio about teaching a small segment of a summer on-line course for them. You can just image how dumbfounded I felt when I read the email. Me? Are you serious? The story I am telling myself is that I am not ready for this, I don't know how to shoot a tutorial video. But the truth is that I haven't tried yet, and until I try I don't have any right to say I can't.

The theme for this is Capturing Moments, which are to be brought to fruition in your art journal. I am looking for ideas from you, my friends, about what this theme would mean to you. I am kicking around an idea, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Road to Atticus

On my desk sits a photograph of two golden boys in the prime of their lives. I recently found this photograph in the storage room as I was sorting and purging. My heart paused when I saw it. It was probably put there when it became too painful to look at.

It was October 2014 when we lost the first golden boy. He was 12, old but not too old. I have never been able to fully write about his loss. October 11 marked two years since the loss of the last golden boy. He was only a couple months shy of 14, but he had been slowly slipping away for the last year of his life.

We have lived the last two years with a part-time dog, the grand dog Findley. Findley is the funniest, quirkiest dog you will ever meet, but he is also a geniune joy and blessing.

It took us these two years to heal, to spend some time without a dog, travel, not be tied down. We did all those things. Eventually the heart heals, the wanderlust dies down a bit, and being without isn't fun anymore. Born on October 8, 2018 was a new beginning.

Our new beginning will be coming home at the beginning of December. At first I thought we were crazy to get a puppy going into winter. Potty training, cold and snow didn't seem like a logical mix. But the more I thought about it...when am I home the most? When do I have the most time to devote to potty and all around training? Winter of course.

Then I worried about socialization. The new ideal is for your puppy to have contact with at least one hundred different people before they are sixteen weeks old. Where am I going to find 100 people in the winter? Our downtown of course, with its heated sidewalks. What a great place to walk, get use to different sounds and a wide variety of people and dogs.  Who can resist talking to and petting a puppy?

The first two golden boys were only six months apart, and we took them on many adventures as a family, but two young dogs and me alone didn't go that well. After the loss of the first golden, I was able to take Scout on some day adventures with me, we had such great times. My one regret was that we didn't get to do more before it became too hard for his back legs to keep up. I have many adventures planned for our new boy, so he better like the car. We have places to go and things to explore.

We don't know yet which little golden boy will be ours, there are three boys in the litter. The breeder matches based on what we are looking for, and the personality of the puppy. She has been doing this a long time, so she knows what she is doing. Although...Mallory did ask for a gentle old soul...

Well...He may not be what she asked for, but he is exactly what she needed.

Still, it's hard not to have a favorite. Whoever our new beginning is, his name is Atticus.